After playing double-digits minutes five straight games, freshman Makayla Epps hadn’t played more than nine minutes since conference play started a week ago.
That included just six minutes off the bench for Kentucky in its loss to Florida on Sunday. She didn’t take a shot and had one personal foul in that short time on the floor.
Mitchell said he is responsible for the Miss Basketball from Marion County’s crisis of confidence after he moved her to the power forward spot to help with post depth after Stallworth went out with the knee injury.
“I have to look in the mirror on that and take the blame for not being able to get her to have the confidence to play there,” he said. “I have a lot of confidence in her. Obviously I haven’t communicated that well enough to her.”
The coach also took the blame for not playing Epps more on Sunday.
“I probably should have gotten Makayla some more minutes because it couldn’t have hurt us any,” Mitchell said, noting that he was trying to stay positive with some other players missing shots. “All those things are sometimes lost in the heat of the battle and you don’t see it as well.”
The 5-foot-10 combo player has practiced well this week and will be a factor at South Carolina, her coach predicted.
“She probably just needs some success in a game to get her going,” he said of Epps. “It’s my job to make sure she’s in position in a game to put her in a position to be successful because right now I think what she needs is a little boost of confidence. She’s still real talented and real valuable to us.”